The world of social media is full of surprises. Every day something is changing. Some social media platform is being updated. Some creator is being demonized. And some dude with thick-framed glasses, a flannel shirt and skinny black jeans is making the next ~mind-blowing~ app. But some of these changes can be much to our chagrin.
This is a story about a difficult change and an even more difficult reality for those of us who dream of making it online through sharing our stories. In the end, it is a story of motivation and perseverance, but before that—the shaky history and reality of money and YouTube.
YouTube. It’s a platform we are all familiar with. Whether you use it to watch old Vines, to get updated on news, or to get filled in on the life of your favorite vlogger, this platform has something for everyone.
YouTube has been known to change its ad policies throughout the years. On February 20, 2018, however, YouTube changed a policy and made many people question how “for everyone” YouTube really is. This policy dealt with who can and cannot monetize their videos. In this statement, YouTube said that it was “changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers.”
While this didn’t seem to be a massive requirement and was sure to not affect large users of the platform, this shift begged the question, “What about small creators?” and even more specifically, “What about small creators that don’t fit these requirements?”
Well, those small creators were paid all the AdSense (money from advertisements via YouTube) that they accrued in the time during the previous monetary policy. If the total earned did not reach the minimum $100 that is typically required in order for YouTube to pay the creator, they were still paid.
As of February 20th, if a creator did not meet the 4,000 hours and 1,000 subscriber minimum, they were no longer eligible to make any revenue from their channel until it meets said requirements, regardless of their prior earnings.
What does this mean?
An easy way to interpret this change is that it deters young channels from continuing to create content. It’s easy to construe this shift as an indirect message from YouTube saying, “your content isn’t of enough value to be monetized.” However, this is, by no means, the motivation of YouTube nor the message that they wish to be sending their community.
In their statement on the policy change, they said the following: “A big part of that effort will be strengthening our requirements for monetization so spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors can’t hurt our ecosystem or take advantage of you, while continuing to reward those who make our platform great.” They go on to say later in the article, “These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone.”
YouTube, it seems, wants these changes to be seen as a means of ensuring that no user is being stolen from and no users are being rewarded for posting harmful content. So this is acting as an insurance for the conglomerate, covering their back to make sure that no one is benefiting from perceived negative content. But what about the potential money loss for the smaller YouTube channels that aren’t doing anything wrong? Why can’t they continue to get paid?
A Look at the Statistics
Well, looking at the numbers, there isn’t much money in YouTube anyway, at least the videos themselves. This Washington Post article details how money is garnered on this platform and the results are quite shocking. If a channel attains one million views in a month, it “is worth only about $12,000 to $16,000 a year in advertising revenue.” More exactly, that’s only one dollar for every 750 to 1,000 views.
It’s not surprising, then, that YouTube stated in their policy shift that out of these smaller channels that were being demonetized only one percent made more than $100 last year, and only 10 percent made more than $2.50 last month.
Philip DeFranco, a YouTuber well known for his “newsy type” videos, broke this new policy down in one of his videos last month, stating, “whether you’re a large creator or more importantly you are a small creator, you need to look at other sources of revenue… You need to figure out ways to make money on YouTube, not necessarily from YouTube.”
DeFranco goes on to detail how making merchandise such as shirts or even an external income account through companies like Patreon can help younger channels because they function, more often than not, as being more sustainable and lucrative ways of attaining monetary sovereignty (at least much more so than AdSense).
It’s not to say that YouTube couldn’t be paying these younger creators, it’s just that it seems that there are better ways out there for people on these newer channels to make more income without the help of the YouTube Partner Program.
So what’s the motivation?
If you’re focused on money (as this article is), the possibility of supplemental income is one that’s still there, no matter how small, once you meet YouTube’s requirements.
But maybe that’s not the point. After writing this post, I watched this Casey Neistat video, and I think he says it best.
“It’s easier today than it will be tomorrow. And it’s definitely easier today, in 2018, than it will be next year, in 2019. And so on, and so on, and so on… If your dream is to be a YouTuber, do it.”
If you’re someone who wants to tell a story, YouTube is still a platform to tell a story, to ‘Broadcast Yourself.’ While it’s not always going to be the best place to make money, it’s all a question of motivation. We do the things that we love for a reason.
One thing that needs to be remembered is that there will always be room for new creators. The old ones will stop creating or lose interest, and then new, more motivated people will take their place. While it may be difficult to start, there is no reason not to try.
Be persistent, create for the right reasons, move forward and don’t let the red tape deter you.